Sheep farm leaders call for electronic identification of sheep changes (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Sheep farm leaders call for electronic identification of sheep changes
THE South Lakeland-based chairman of the National Sheep Association has slammed the European Union’s zero tolerance approach to electronic identification of sheep (EID), claiming it is ‘not working’.
John Geldard, who farms at Crook, has joined NSA chief executive Phil Stocker in calling call for a rethink on the EID regulations which imposes an automatic financial penalty on farmers for any inaccuracy.
“The only way forward now is to get this regulation reviewed because it is clear that it is not working,” said Mr Geldard.
“We cannot have a situation where large mixed farms are turned away from sheep because they put their CAP payments at risk – that is not helping farming to develop to address the needs of food security and sustainability.
“NSA is now aware that there are a growing number of EU member states realising that EID with zero tolerance is not working. The more member states that speak up and join forces the less the regulators can ignore our views.”
Mr Stocker said: “As far back as 2003 the NSA was clear that it supported EID in sheep, as long as the application was both workable and affordable, on the basis that electronic identification supported movement recording that would ultimately lead to reduced risk of disease spread and give confidence to sheep markets.
“Unfortunately the decision on zero tolerance ignores the relationship between IT technology and living creatures, and is not considered affordable by a farmer who receives an automatic financial penalty for inaccuracy. Sheep farmers feel completely betrayed in having a system imposed on them where they are penalised for the technology not being 100 per cent reliable.”
The NSA said it had explored the possibility of a judicial review of EID in the UK, but this had not proved possible.
Now the association is trying to galvanise support for a review of the regulations at EU level.